Ancient Roman Carnelian Intaglio with Mercury and Fortuna


A fine Roman, carnelian intaglio carved with the image of Mercury and Fortuna facing each other. To the left, Fortuna wears a draped chiton and a mural crown. Her left arm is resting on a rudder while her right hand holds a cornucopia, common characteristics of the goddess. She is portrayed standing with her head lowered in front of Mercury, who is holding a laurel wreath in his right hand and appears to be crowning Fortuna. The god is recognisable by his typical attributes: the petasos (πέτασος), a winged hat which he wears on his head, a cloak draped over the left arm, and a caduceus over his shoulder behind him, although part of the motif is no longer visible due to the chip on the edge.

The piece comes with a professionally baked, modern impression.

Date: Circa 2nd century AD
Provenance: From the collection of a Swiss gentleman formed in Europe from 1970-1980s; thence by descent from the family in London.
Condition: Fine condition with some chips to the edges. The intaglio itself weighs 0.36g.

In stock

SKU: CY-199 Category: Tags: , ,

The subjects used for intaglios are diverse, with depictions of deities and mythical creatures being a favourite theme. This intaglio, featuring the appearance of Fortuna, the goddess of good luck and chance, and Mercury, the god of commerce together, would have been an allegory referring to abundance, prosperity and fortune. The deities’ attributes were also popular positive symbols in Roman culture, such as the cornucopia, the rudder, and the caduceus. Allegorical depictions were common in Ancient Rome. Romans would have worn such gemstones as amulets, with apotropaic meanings.

To find out more about intaglios, please visit our relevant blog post: Engraved Gemstones in Ancient Rome.

To discover more about Roman deities, please visit our relevant blog post: Roman Gods in Mythology and Roman Goddesses in Mythology.

Weight 1.05 g
Dimensions L 1.2 x W 1.0 cm


Roman Mythology


Semi-Precious Stones

Reference: For a similar item,The Yale University Art Gallery, item 1986.17.18

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